Volunteering at Danbury Hospital
Volunteers are a key member of the Danbury Hospital care team. From patient transport and bedside visits to behind-the-scenes administrative support, volunteers provide a vital service to our community. We welcome community members who are interested in making a difference in the lives of our patients and their families. Come lend a hand today! Call 203-739-7384 to learn about ways in which you can share your time and talents with our patients and staff.
At this time, our volunteer program is not onboarding new volunteers. Please check back on this site in September for listed Orientation dates
At Western Connecticut Health Network, we look to put smiles on our patients faces any way we can. And sometimes, bringing our furry friends to visit (and work with) our patients does just the trick. We are in need of canines and their partners and work with a number of nationally recognized pet therapy programs, including Pet Partners, Good Dog Foundation, Therapy Dogs International and others, to keep up with the increasing demand for this type of therapy.
Is your dog a candidate for the program? Requirements include:
- Vaccination status of all dogs must be current
- Must have a current dog license and wear a current tag
- Must have completed a formal obedience class
- Must hold a Canine Good Citizenship Certificate and be certified by an American Kennel Club recognized certification organization
- Must hold membership with one of the above recognized programs
- Must get along well with both people and other animals
- Must be temperament tested in the hospital
- Must bathe before every hospital visit
Vaccinations and Fecal Examinations
- Vaccination against distemper, adenovirus type 2, parainfluenza, and parvovirus must be administered annually, or every three years (dependent on serum).
- Vaccination against rabies must be administered according to Connecticut State regulations: initial vaccination at three months, followed by vaccination one year later and every three years thereafter.
- Leptospirosis vaccine must be administered annually.
- Heartworm test must be performed every other year.
- Lyme vaccine is optional.
- WCHN reserves the right to require additional vaccinations, in the event of disease outbreaks, newly-emerging infectious diseases, etc.
- A fecal examination (floatation and direct smear) must be performed every six months.Any dog testing positive for internal parasites must be removed from the visitation schedule until appropriate treatment has been completed, as directed by the dog’s veterinarian. Visitation can resume after one negative fecal examination.
- All participating dogs must undergo the following procedures at the intervals indicated:
Annually (or as needed)
Annually (or as needed)
Fecal examination for parasites
Every six months
- The completed veterinarian’s evaluation form, copies of vaccination certificates, and copies of results of fecal examinations, heartworm testing and rectal cultures must be given to VSD, where they will be kept on file.
- The dog owner is responsible for obtaining all necessary procedures at the appropriate time.
- Failure to provide documentation of the above procedures to VSD at the appropriate time will result in an immediate suspension of participation in the volunteer dog visitation program and the following actions:
- If a deadline cannot be met due to personal or pet illness or hardship, a two week grace period will be granted on a case-by-case basis.
- If the grace period is granted, the required procedures must be performed and results documented by the end of the grace period.
- Failure to meet the deadline within the grace period will result in a six month suspension from visitation. At the end of this period a readmission physical examination, vaccinations and laboratory testing must be performed, and documentation provided to VSD. The dog may then be reentered into the program, at the discretion of WCHN.
- If your dog is ill, or under the care of a veterinarian, please follow the Health Protocol for Volunteer Dogs.
- Dog owners should be aware that some hospital patients are highly susceptible to infectious agents. Under no circumstance should a dog be brought into the hospital if it is on antibiotic therapy and/or is thought to be suffering from an infectious disorder. This includes skin and ear infections, internal parasites and gastro-intestinal upsets of any kind.
- If an infectious disease is detected at any time, either as a result of annual physical examination or laboratory testing, the dog owner must notify VSD immediately. No further hospital visits will be scheduled until treatment has been completed, follow-up lab work obtained, and approval to resume visitation has been given by the dog’s veterinarian.
- If a dog has been removed from the visitation schedule due to a potentially infectious disorder, visitation will not be resumed until two negative cultures have been obtained, the first culture being taken no less than seven days after completion of therapy. If the particular infection being treated cannot readily be cultured, either because of site of infection or nature of organism, visitation can be resumed no less than two weeks after: 1. Completion of antibiotic therapy, 2. Resolution of infection as deemed by the veterinarian managing the case. Dogs undergoing treatment for intestinal parasites can resume visitation after one negative fecal examination.
- Participating dogs that develop a non-infectious disease (e.g., diabetes mellitus, heart disease) may continue to participate on a case-by-case basis, at the discretion of the dog’s veterinarian and WCHN.
* Copies of all requested documents must be sent to the Volunteer Services Department, where they will be kept on file.
* Dogs will be accepted into the program only when the owner has been accepted as a Hospital Volunteer.
* All physical examinations and laboratory testing will be performed at the owner’s expense.
Owner/handler requirements include:
- Be at least 18 years of age.
- Be a non-nicotine user.
- Fill out a volunteer application with references and complete background check.
- Submit a signed health status screening form signed by your MD or a physician from a local clinic, have a TB test, submit proof of MMR titers and have a flu shot.
- Complete volunteer orientation.
- Attend an interview with the Manager of Volunteer Services.
- Be able to volunteer at least a few hours per month.
- Biomedical Research Institute Summer Training Experience
- Lyme Disease Research Internship Program
- Original Clinical Research Internship Program
Each summer we have several students who volunteer/intern in the Department of Research and Innovation. The program is highly competitive. We offer two programs: one for those interested in hospital-based research at our 24 Hospital Avenue, Danbury location and another for those interested in basic science research at our West Street location.
In 2017, Summer Research Institute Volunteers were able to enroll 100 participants in our Lyme Disease Registry. They worked hand in hand with physicians and patients.
“I learned so much throughout my volunteer experience within the research department,” said one volunteer. “Technical skills and the opportunity to have patient interaction are so valuable especially if you plan to go to medical school. Good communication is really important to patient satisfaction and the overall healing process. Knowing this is really important because it sets you apart from the rest.”
The Western Connecticut Health Network Research Program at The Biomedical Research Institute is a summer research experience for high school students, college undergraduates, medical students and secondary school science teachers. We offer a chance to “learn by doing” and work to broaden the students’ understanding of the research process and possible career paths by providing authentic experience working in an active research lab.
The goals of the program include increasing interest in biological sciences and medicine in students and educators, and helping students and educators understand how scientific research is performed.
The application process runs now through March 4, 2019.
- Sign up online to attend an Open House/New Volunteer Orientation.
- Intake Forms: At the time of the Open House you will receive an application packet and fill out some basic informational forms prior to exiting the Open House.
- Completed Application: A fully completed application may be submitted via mail, fax, or in-person drop off. At this time we are unable to accept volunteer applications via email. After submitting your application, it will be reviewed by a member of the Volunteer Services team. You will be contacted post review regarding the status of your application.
- Interview: If there is an opportunity you might be suitable for, you will be scheduled for an interview. Please note some programs do require a second interview with your designated supervisor.
- Pre-placement Medical Requirements and Clearances: In your packet, you will receive a Health Assessment Questionnaire and specific instructions on where to go for a free PPD/Tuberculosis skin test.
This health evaluation is required by Connecticut Public Health Law to promote the safety and well-being of our patients, volunteers and staff. Please note that in the State of Connecticut in order to volunteer at any healthcare facility your physician must provide a statement indicating you are free and clear of communicable disease. If you have had a physical within the last 12 months, your doctor can simply sign off on the form.
- Influenza Vaccination
As a condition of employment, everyone who works, interns or volunteers at Danbury and New Milford Hospitals must comply with our flu vaccination program. This means that once the vaccination becomes available to the public every fall volunteers can either come to one of our hospitals during our flu clinic hours or visit their personal doctor or a local drug store to obtain the flu shot. Volunteers will need to provide evidence of current vaccination or sign a declination form on an annual basis or be denied access to the facility.
If volunteers opt to visit their own physician to receive vaccinations, titers or the PPD, the volunteer will be required to pay any office copays or insurance fees not covered that result from these vaccinations. It is wise for the volunteer to check with their insurance company to ensure it will be covered prior to incurring any costs.
If volunteers elect to sign a declination form they will not be permitted to work in clinical areas during flu season. All staff and volunteers who have an exemption to vaccination will be required to don a yellow surgical mask while at work during the flu season. This includes all areas when the location presents the potential for interaction with patients in areas such as, but not limited to, clinical units, hallways, lobbies and public areas like the gift shop or Bistro Café.
To be fully functional the mask must fit snugly, cover the nose and mouth and be secured to the face with ties or elastic. The metal nasal piece should be molded securely to the nose.
The mask should be replaced when it becomes soiled or moist and discarded at the end of the shift. It is recommended that the mask be changed approximately every 2 hours or more frequently if needed. Minimal time is required to change the mask. A damp mask may contribute to facial irritation.
Danbury and New Milford Hospital administers the “standard-dose” flu vaccine. We don’t administer the high-dose vaccine for those 65 and older.
The standard-dose vaccine provides adequate protection. We follow the recommendations of the CDC’s Advisory Committee for Immunization Practices – the federal body that establishes annual guidelines for influenza vaccination.
In the case than an individual’s healthcare provider has made a different vaccine-dose recommendation and administered that vaccine, that will be supported at Danbury and New Milford Hospitals.
- Tuberculousis Screening (aka: PPD)
A tuberculosis skin test, which checks for exposure to TB, is required for all volunteers regardless of age to meet health requirements and assure patient safety. Volunteers age 18 and older are required to have a two-step PPD prior to their first day of service. Volunteers under the age of 18 are required to have a single step PPD. All volunteers are required to have annual PPDs thereafter. We offer the PPD free of charge in Employee Health on the first floor of the tower building on Mondays, Wednesdays and Thursdays between 7:30am and 12pm. You must first obtain a health form from the volunteer services department prior to going for your PPD. If you have already had a PPD within the last 12 months and can document it we will accept it.
- Background check/Security: All volunteer applicants 18 and over will need to complete a criminal background check at no cost to the volunteer. The Volunteer Services Department uses the same company to conduct national criminal and out-of-state background checks as our Human Resources Department uses for new hires.
- Beginning your Assignment: Once you've completed the orientation, we will need to ensure you've met the following competencies: hospital guidelines, regulations, policies and procedures as they pertain to your volunteer placement. You will also complete an orientation with the area to which you are assigned by shadowing either a staff member or senior volunteer.
• Commitment: We ask volunteers to commit to at least one consecutive four-hour period per week and a minimum of six months (one full school semester for those ages 16-18). Some opportunities may differ.
• Schedule: Assignment times will vary depending on the department you are assigned to and the opportunity. If you cannot come in at your designated time you will need to alert the proper supervisor and do a makeup assignment at an agreed upon time.
• Attendance/ Absence: Volunteers must communicate with the Volunteer Department and the department they've been assigned to for any need for an extended absence or if you will be ending your volunteer commitment.
• Timekeeping: You are required to log all of your volunteer hours into our timekeeping system by checking in when you arrive and checking out when you have completed your shift. Those with multiple shifts on the same day will need to check into their first assignment and then check out when they are finished, and then check in for the next assignment.
• Annual Compliance: Volunteers must maintain compliance with annual influenza vaccines and health evaluations, as well as education and other items as necessary.
A Core Group of Dedicated Volunteers
When you become a WCHN volunteer, you are joining a select group of dedicated volunteers motivated by a strong passion for a cause that is related to their personal or professional interests. Together, these volunteers have made important contributions to the Network and have contributed more than $2.5 million annually in volunteer time. Our volunteers take pride in what they do. They’ve told us the greatest advantage of volunteering is the personal satisfaction derived from it. If you want to help out, you will receive back what you give, multiplied by ten or a hundred times.
“I come from a generation where everyone volunteered. The ability to give back to your community is a privilege and I definitely do enjoy helping, and I enjoy knowing that whatever effort I’ve made has made a difference.” – Recently Retired Administrative Assistant and Current Active Senior Volunteer
“I was thinking about what made me want to volunteer and I would say growing up, my family placed a lot of emphasis on the importance of volunteering and giving back to communities. My mom does a lot of formal volunteering and informal volunteering, like bringing food to elderly neighbors. So I’ve seen that as an example and I think that is a large reason why I like to volunteer.” – Summer Youth Volunteer
Parking is free to volunteers in the Rizzo Parking Garage, which leads directly into the Buck Pavilion Entrance or the Red Garage, off of Locust Avenue close to the Strook/Walgreens Entrance, or the Gold Garage, located nearest to the Danbury Medical Arts Center (DMAC) at Osborne Street.
Research demonstrates that volunteering leads to better health and that older volunteers are the most likely to receive physical and mental health benefits from their volunteer activities. Volunteer activities can strengthen the social ties that protect individuals from isolation during difficult times, while the experience of helping others leads to a sense of greater self-worth and trust. Volunteering provides individuals and groups with a purposeful social role. According to the Corporation for National and Community Service, research has found that when individuals volunteer, they are more likely to live longer.
Goldstone Caregiver Center Staff and Volunteer Activities
Chair Yoga and Mid-day Meditation are some of the activities available free of charge to staff and volunteers.
The Danbury Hospital Medical Sciences Library is available for use by all staff and volunteers.
How Can I Become a Volunteer?
The first step is to attend a mandatory open house/orientation and fill out the volunteer application. After returning the application to us, should we have an available position, a member of the Volunteer Services team will contact you to set up an interview.
Where is the Volunteer Services Department Located?
At Danbury Hospital we are located in the South Building on the 6th Floor. At New Milford Hospital we are located on 2 East.
What are the Hours of the Volunteer Services Department?
Office hours at Danbury Hospital are 8 a.m. -4:30 p.m.
If you need to reach the department during off hours, you may always call or email the department to leave a message and someone will return your message at their earliest convenience.
Can I drop off my application in person?
If you would like to drop off your completed application in person you must pre-arrange a mutually convenient time with a member of the Volunteer Services Team. Packages cannot be accepted at our entrances. Reception staff at our information desks are happy to call to notify department staff when someone comes, but can’t take responsibility for packages left. Prospective volunteers are encouraged to mail in their application packet if they do not have a designated meeting time when they can bring it in.
What is the mandatory open house/orientation about?
At this initial meeting you will learn vital information about Western Connecticut Health Network volunteer requirements, infection control, confidentiality, hospital codes, medical legal guidelines and fire safety. Your photograph may also be taken for your volunteer ID badge. WCHN recognizes the importance of providing a safe environment for patients, visitors, volunteers and employees. To ensure safety for all, WCHN requires background checks for all volunteers and employees over the age of 18.
How is my volunteer placement decided?
After the initial open house/orientation, you will be given an opportunity to meet with the Manager of Volunteer Services or a designee to discuss your interests. It is very helpful to be aware of your scheduling conflicts and areas of interest for volunteering. Volunteer placements require a regular block of time every week.
How long does it take to become a volunteer?
Applications are accepted on a rolling basis. Although we may not always have a position available which matches your interests we generally keep applications on file for six months. If something becomes available you will be contacted.
I have already had an interview with the Manager of Volunteer Services, when can I start?
Once you have interviewed with a member of the Volunteer Services Team, you may have some remaining medical clearances to obtain. It is your responsibility to obtain all necessary documentation so that your file is in order. You will start after you’ve completed your criminal background check at a mutually beneficial day and time. Please note if you are interested in working a volunteer shift on weekends or evenings, you will likely have to come in to train during the week when we have someone you can shadow.
How often do I have to volunteer?
The minimum requirement is three to four hours once a week, on the same day and time, for at least six months. Student commitments tend to vary with the average commitment being four months or the equivalent of one full school semester. If you cannot make a six-month commitment, but are willing to volunteer for two or more shifts per week, please indicate that on your application. Our hope is that you will continue beyond the minimum commitment.
What is the minimum age requirement?
Volunteers must be at least 16-years-old. High school students are encouraged to apply for the program if they can make a solid commitment of at least one four-hour shift per week for a full school semester.
When can I start volunteering?
After meeting all volunteer requirements, a Volunteer ID badge is issued to volunteers. At that time volunteers can start volunteering in their assigned area. All volunteers are required to wear a Volunteer ID badge and designated uniform at all times.
*Please note if you are assigned to work in Histology or Anatomic Pathology you will be asked to adhere to their uniform policy in addition to the Volunteer Services Department uniform policy.
Can I do an internship at the hospital?
Internships require a legal contract between the participating school, the student and WCHN. The Volunteer Services Department does not manage internships. If you wish to contribute hours of service just to gain experience you are welcome to apply as a volunteer.
Can I shadow a clinician?
Both internships and shadow opportunities need to be arranged directly through the department you will be working with. This means you will need to contact the department directly to learn whether they are accepting interns/shadows. Volunteer Services is not involved in arranging these opportunities within WCHN.
I have to complete volunteer services in order to graduate High School. Can I do my service at WCHN?
You may complete your volunteer service as a volunteer, however, please keep in mind our hourly commitment must be met before documentation of service will be provided.
I have court appointed community service. Can I complete my hours at the hospital?
Volunteer Services cannot accept applicants whose charges involve drugs, larceny or violence of any kind. You must be available to volunteer during the day, speak with the Manager of Volunteers regarding the situation and provide a court contact or personal lawyer information.
If you can meet these requirements, please complete an adult application. If you do not disclose that you are completing court ordered community service at the time of application, no documentation of service will be provided.
I lost my job and am currently looking for full-time employment. Can I become a volunteer?
While we are extremely grateful for the overwhelming interest we receive from prospective volunteers, we do not encourage you to apply as a volunteer if you are currently looking for full-time work as we do not want to deter you from finding employment. We spend a tremendous amount of time recruiting, training and placing our volunteers. Our patients and staff rely greatly on the work of our volunteers. If you accept a volunteer position and then find full-time work you may not be able to fulfill your commitment to WCHN. We ask that you take this into consideration when applying as a volunteer.
I have become a volunteer at WCHN; will this guarantee me a paid position within the hospital?
While we are proud you agree that WCHN is a great place to work, unfortunately we are unable to guarantee that volunteers will obtain a paid position. Volunteering in healthcare is a step in the right direction if you are interested in going into the field, however, we can’t make any promises of employment.
How much will I get paid to volunteer?
You may incur certain costs while volunteering, such as travel expenses, meals, etc. These are costs which you must take into consideration prior to becoming a volunteer. The word volunteer, by definition, is a person who performs work without getting paid for it; therefore, volunteers at hospitals do not get paid. However, some individuals at hospitals who deal directly with volunteers may be paid staff members, such as volunteer coordinators or schedulers.
My group wishes to volunteer for the day to create a “team-building” experience. Can we come to WCHN to volunteer for the day?
During certain holidays, we have school groups come to perform in our lobbies and other areas where visitors and patients can congregate. Because of patient privacy laws and infection control issues we typically cannot accommodate many of these requests. If you have a question about your specific group please contact the Volunteer Services Department at (203) 739-7384.
Will I need to get a flu shot before volunteering?
Yes, both WCHN employees and volunteers are required to have an influenza vaccination during flu season. Exceptions are made for medical and or religious purposes. Employees and staff who decline the flu shot will sign a declination form. Those who decline will be required to wear a protective mask while volunteering during flu season.
I would like to work with drug addicted babies and rock them to sleep. Can I volunteer with these babies?
We do not have a cuddling program for volunteers at Danbury Hospital. Our family birth center encourages mother and baby to remain together after birth in a private room.
I recently came to the US and speak very limited English. Can I practice my English as a volunteer?
While we encourage volunteers of diverse backgrounds, all volunteers need to prove they have a command of the English language to be able to communicate with patients, staff and visitors. If you are interested in becoming a volunteer we ask that you take ESL classes on your own and come back to us once you’ve successfully completed the classes. After you have demonstrated a command of the English language, spoken and written, we will be happy to work with you if we have a volunteer opportunity that matches your interests.